Eau Claire announces new loan program for businesses struggling with COVID-19
EAU CLAIRE, Wisconsin (WEAU) – As fall sets in, many businesses are still struggling due to COVID-19. But a new program launched on Monday hopes to bring Eau Claire companies out of the cold, at least for a while.
This program could help businesses in Eau Claire County catch their breath and catch up with their bills. Eau Claire Economic Development Director Aaron White says the loans couldn’t come at a better time for local businesses.
“I don’t know if we ever go back to where we were before COVID-19,” White says. “But at least get closer to a more normal operation if they start to see income generation on a more regular basis.”
it’s called EDA revolving loan program, which is part of the $ 1.5 billion set aside in President Trump’s CARES Act to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Under the Care Act, any community with an EDA revolving loan fund has been asked to apply for an additional grant of $ 500,000 to create a new EDA CARES revolving loan fund, intended to help businesses. facing issues related to COVID-19, ”White said. “We’re trying to focus more on businesses that need smaller financing loans. We’re really aiming for $ 25,000 or less in terms of loans.
The EDA revolving loan is designed for people like Brett Watnemoe, a small business owner who took over his grandfather’s hair salon, Ed’s, in August after nearly six decades.
“The atmosphere in the store has changed a bit since it was a walk-in store,” says Watnemoe. “People come, sit and talk and get their news for the week. Now it’s just a date. “
The goal is to provide struggling small businesses with a zero rate loan to get back on their feet. In the plan, it also allows for one-year deferred payments and doesn’t require 2-to-1 leverage, meaning businesses don’t have to put up $ 2 in financing for every $ 1 loaned. .
“It is designed to help businesses that are doing very well, that have encountered issues and issues that businesses are facing due to COVID and safer home prescriptions to give them a boost or a helping hand. White said.
The plan also includes two industries that are not covered by other EDA programs; restaurants and non-profit organizations. However, he says this program is a loan, not a grant.
“We want to make sure people understand this and unlike some federal programs, we don’t have a forgiveness component to this,” White said. “It’s a loan that will eventually have to be paid off at some point.”
Watnemoe says business has been stable since his takeover, but he knows that can change quickly. With one in six small businesses shutting down, he says all options are on the table if another shutdown occurs
“Fortunately, I was able to have enough money to save to pay my rent, pay my bills and keep a constant flow of customers,” says Watnemoe. “The building was built in 1899, it was a brilliant barber shop in 1901, my grandfather took it over in 1963. I think it is very important that I do everything I can to keep it. desire.”
White says there is no deadline to apply for the program. The plan comes in multiple tiers, giving the city the ability to accelerate claims up to $ 10,000. For more information on the EDA CARES revolving loan program, click here.
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